Golf’s Most Prolific Architects
Bobby at 18 Prince Course

Golf’s Most Prolific Architects

LINKS Magazine

Specifying exactly how many courses certain architects designed is pretty tricky. A number of layouts credited to them might have been redesigns or renovations of existing courses. Or, they might simply have “worked on” the course, whatever that means.

For the purposes of this article, an original course earned the designer a full point, but we also considered redesigns, renovations, restorations, reworkings, recreations, remodels, and re-imaginings. Building a new tee though, or reshaping a couple of greens, got you nothing.

Taking all that into account, we arrived at 10 names who we believe designed, or contributed significantly to, 300 courses or more.

Members of The 300 Club are a very select group who somehow found time to eat and sleep as well as create golf holes. Quantity isn’t always a sign of quality though, and it’s certainly true that not all the courses these architects designed were great or even very good.

But they sure were busy.

Robert Trent Jones Jr.

RTJ Jr.’s website opens with a banner declaring “More than 300 courses in over 50 countries on six continents”—an astonishingly varied and noteworthy portfolio of work that goes back to the early 1960s when “Bobby” began working with his father at Spyglass Hill in Monterey, Calif. The elder of Robert Trent Jones’s two sons (Rees is two years younger) dealt with the company’s clients in the western states and also in Asia where the game was really taking off. Jones Jr. set up his own firm in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1972 and quickly gained a reputation as an adventurous and artistic designer whose intention was always to “listen to the land.”

“The very best courses are those where nature has provided the canvas and my job is to discover her secrets and reveal them,” says the 83-year-old romantic whose love of poetry and music have no doubt helped shape his designs.

Design Style: Unlike his father, RTJII and his associates have never really built any instantly recognizable features and though the company’s greens and bunkers tend toward the large, they certainly aren’t the largest in the world. Jones Jr.’s courses have long sought to make a visual impact which seems to be at odds with the environmentalist persona the firm has built in recent years, but his description of his designs as “complex, eclectic, and wide-ranging” is certainly accurate.

Notable Courses: Princeville Makai & Prince (Hawaii; Prince now closed), Moscow C.C. (Russia), Chambers Bay (Wash.)